What if LeBron, Wade, and Bosh say no?

The Bulls have positioned themselves to make a max bid on a 2010 superstar free agent in their prime.  We all know this, and yet we also know that this plan is fraught with peril.   What if the Bulls are unable to obtain such a player?

For the sake of this discussion, I view LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh as the primary targets on everyone's list.  So if the Bulls can not get one of these players what is the fall back plan?

The first option is Amare Stoudemire.   His offensive game would fit well with Rose, and if Noah bulks up enough to defend centers well then he'll be able to help cover Amare's defensive weaknesses.   The problem with Amare is the price and injury risk.  He'll likely demand a 20 million dollar per year deal and want to be the star.  He's probably not worth remotely that money, but a team like the Knicks will pounce on him for the money after making promises to their fans.

For those disappointed that we missed the Carlos Boozer raffle drawing (this guy's not worth a sweepstakes folks), he'll be available next year looking to cash checks.  Much like Stoudemire he's a talented guy who comes with great risk.  He has questionable work ethic, attidude, and many feel that he milks injuries and won't play.   His character is considered crap, and Utah has been off and on trying to unload him for much of the length of his deal despite him putting up performances that make him underpaid by his tangible basketball efforts.  I'd love Boozer in a contract year, but I wouldn't trust him on a long term deal.

Joe Johnson is probably the next best available player.  Personally, I'd rather have Ben Gordon next to Derrick Rose than Joe Johnson.  Gordon's a better shooter and would create more space for Rose on the court than Johnson.  Johnson's a better distributor, but he's more of an isolation player as well.   Johnson once played a supporting role in Phoenix, but I don't know that he'd go back to that type of role and playing as 'the man' he's more disruptive than Gordon playing the same way.   He'll also likely cost 15 million a year or so, and is old enough that he likely won't be worth his contract in the end years.

Any of the above guys could be a worth addition to the team, but there are huge red flags on the first two and not such a great fit with Johnson.  If we get one, we'll likely have to win a bidding war that leaves us in a position of vastly overpaying a guy in an era with a declining salary cap.  Just remember the fallout of our cap situation when we couldn't get Duncan Hill and McGrady years ago.   We started throwing big money at everyone.  These guys wouldn't be Mercer/Robinson (who weren't even remotely worth the thought of the money), but they were the Antonio Davis and Tim Thomas.   Guys who you could tell right away were overrated relative to the money available and were hoping would turn us down even if we made a big offer.

So what comes next if you pass on these guys?

Yao Ming may be an intriguing possibility if he opts out, but how could you take a chance on his health?  Will Yao even take a chance on his health to opt out?   I'm hardly alone in suggesting the last few years that there's no way in hell I'd sign him to an extension because his body would never hold out.  It appears more than ever that this is accurate, and yet because of the lack of big men in the league my guess is that Ming gets a pretty big contract even if his health isn't proven "just in case" he can come back.  I just hope we're not the ones making that pledge.

Dirk Nowitski may opt out of his contract and be available, but he'll be 32.  How much or long do you really want to commit to him?   I think he still might be worth paying big money on a 3-4 year deal, but it depends how big the money and whether Dallas ponies up even more.  It's hard to imagine winning a bidding war against the Mavericks and feeling good about the price you got the player at when the process is over.

More or less the same thing can be said of Paul Pierce if he opts out of his contract except that the Celtics are less likely to massively overpay him.

Kobe also could opt out, but he'll never leave the Lakers, if he's available you bid, but he won't really be available even if he's a free agent.

That leaves me with the desperation plan.  LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay are two restricted free agents who might be available.   Memphis seems like a team that isn't going to knock anyone's socks off in a bidding war, so Gay could probably be pried away.   I'm not sure that he'd fit, but he'll at least be someone we could consider.

LaMarcus Aldridge seems like a lock to return to Portland.  That is he seemed like one until the blazers balked on giving Brandon Roy a max contract for about a month. If Roy wasn't an automatic decision for them, then Aldridge can't even be close.  Remember that if the salary cap falls, the max contract won't be nearly so big as it is right now and that Aldridge will be earning an early veteran max (25% of cap) rather than the later vet max (30% or 105% of present salary).

Many of the players listed above would come in on contracts that might average 20 million a year, while depending where the cap falls next year whereas Aldridge's max contract would only average about 14.7.  Is it too much to pay Aldrdige?   Yes.   However, I might feel more comfortable with Aldridge at 14.7 than Boozer at the same price or vastly more. Aldridge is at least young, and seems to have gotten past his injuries.

If all of the above fails we're looking at Luis Scola, keeping Tyrus Thomas, solving our needs through the draft and saving our money for another day.  That might actually end up being the most prudent path, but it will be tough to convince Bulls fans of that after throwing out the 2010 cap space plan as a reason for not coming to terms with Ben Gordon.

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  • If we miss out on Wade or Bosh(obviously Lebron) is a no then Joe Johnson is a solid pickup. I agree that paying max money to Amare is not a good idea. Depending on the money I would consider Boozer but I am betting he joins Wade in Miami. But at $13-$14 million Boozer would not be bad. You did not mention him but David Lee might factor in if he takes 1 yr QO from NY. Also making a push at Aldridge might work but I doubt Allen lets him come here.

  • In reply to Basghetti80:

    I think Johnson might be at a point where he decides this is his last contract where he can be a major contributor on a championship team, and might be willing to play a secondary role to an excellent young PG if we show we're a piece a way. If he can cope with that role, I think he'd be a much more sure fit than Wade.

    But I certainly wouldn't mind picking up a $10-12mil big, and going after a guy like Evan Turner in the draft. Or just reverse that with a $10-12mil SG, and one of the good looking bigs in the draft. I'd love to have an all Chicago back court, though, and Turner looks like he'd fit great with Rose.

  • What if...Goodbye Derrick Rose

    What if the Chicago Bulls can't acquire LeBron, Wade, or Bosh in 2010 - 2011?

    I'd say good-bye to Derrick Rose.

    That's the real opportunity cost. If the Bulls can't make themselves significantly better in 2010, Derrick Rose will begin doing what LeBron is doing, shopping himself around.

    The Chicago Bulls lost their 1st round pick Ben Gordon this year w/o compensation, for more money. It could happen again with Derrick Rose if the Chicago Bulls can't surround him with the talent that he needs.

  • LaMarcus would look great on the block. Is that max salary figure accurate though? I didn't do his but I figured Horford and came up with 13.5 or so.

  • I don't see any scenario where Blazer ownership would not spend what is necessary to retain Aldridge. The owner is literally one of the richest men on the planet

  • The negotiations werent over the max money, they knew he'd get that. It was over the player option on the last year. Lamarcus will be staying in Portland.

  • Not signing the 3rd best player in team history was risky. The creative thing to do is put Tyrus at the 3. His 15 to 18 ft shot is improving along with his handles. It could make him an allstar! quickly!

  • Everyone seems confident that he will get a simalar sort of contract as b roy, although obviously not as much money. I'm not sure what the hold up on negotiations are, but last I heard was that Kevin Pritchard said that they are also close to finishing up the deal.

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